Today, March 1, is Baby Sleep Day. Baby Sleep Day brings attention to the importance of a good night’s sleep for every young child and their family.
Just as adults need a good night’s sleep, so do our little ones. Quincy Medical Group (QMG) Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Becky Campbell points to seven benefits of a healthy sleep routine, including:
- Sleep promotes growth.
- Sleep helps the heart.
- Sleep affects weight.
- Sleep helps beat germs. (functioning of immune system)
- Sleep reduces injury risk.
- Sleep increases kids’ attention span.
- Sleep boosts learning.
“Good, restful sleep improves attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health,” she explained.
She added that many factors can disrupt a child’s sleep pattern including teething, growth spurts, illness, hunger, night terror, or nightmares.
“Often, many will cause a temporary disruption. If changes persist, consider other things such as stress or changes in the household. All children, regardless of age are sensitive to changes in their environment and can be sensitive to caregiver stress and frustration. The onset of poor sleep, that can’t be attributed to illness (ear infection, URI, pain, etc.), might be a signal of stress or anxiety,” Campbell explained.
She offers the following tips for establishing a sleep routine for your baby.
- Set a regular schedule of naps and bedtime for your baby. Establishing a routine is the essence of getting your baby to develop good sleep habits. Put your baby down for a nap as soon as he or she acts sleepy. Your baby may rub his or her eyes when sleepy. If your baby gets too tired, it may be hard for him or her to get to sleep. If your infant misses a nap, try to keep him or her awake until the next nap time.
- At night, set up a soothing routine. Give your baby a bath, sing lullabies, read a book, or tell a story. These activities can relax your baby. They also signal that it is time to sleep. Do not get your baby excited with active play right before sleep.
- When your baby is getting sleepy, put your baby in his or her crib in a quiet, darkened room. This will help your baby learn to go to sleep in his or her crib.
- Do not rock your baby to sleep. Your baby will learn that you are needed to help him or her sleep. Rock your baby, but put him or her to sleep while he or she is drowsy but still awake.
- You can help your baby become a good sleeper. The goal is to help your baby comfort himself or herself so that you do not become your baby’s only source of comfort at sleep time.
- Remember to put your baby down to sleep on his or her back. This decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Campbell said many parents worry about their children’s sleep, but there is no “right” amount of sleep for children because each child’s needs are different. But some children have sleep problems that keep them, and often their families, from getting the sleep they need. Some sleep problems go away on their own, and others may need medical care. Concerning changes or sleep difficulties should be discussed with your child’s provider.
“Your doctor will work with you to find out what is causing your child’s sleep problem. Sometimes tests or sleep studies are needed,” Campbell explained. “For many children, getting regular exercise, eating well, and having a good bedtime routine relieves sleep problems.”
The Pediatrics team at QMG is here for you and your little ones. To schedule an appointment or to establish care with one of our providers, call (217) 222-6550, ext. 3333 or visit quincymedgroup.com.
Campbell recommends the following reading materials to help in your family’s sleep routines.
Book suggestions for Parents
Happiest Baby on the Block
Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child
Precious Little Sleep
Books for children
Happy Hippo-It’s Time for Sleep
Benny Goes to Bed by Himself
Good Night, Little Turtle
Night, Night to the Animals
10 Little Night Stars